Perth Philosophy Circle presents:
Pub Philosophy: Crisis of Modern Self and Society
A 7 part, monthly, public lecture series.
Part 3: “Psychological Know-How: Self-Help?”
“Psychology is very often how societies avoid looking in the mirror”.
Davies, William. The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. London and New York: Verso, 2016, 10
Psychological and neuropsychological explanations of human experience are prolific in contemporary culture: from pictures of brains lighting up in our newspapers, to online quizzes that establish whether we are introverted or extroverted, to mood tracking apps. In this lecture, I will problematise these explanations by showing a puzzle at the heart of the psychological project: the individual is positioned as solely responsible for her own problems, yet to solve ‘her own’ problems she must invest in psychological expertise, tools and techniques. To address this conundrum, as well as point towards a different way to understand what it means to be human, I will offer a brief history of the psychologisation of human experience as an incongruous extension of modern science into the domain of human affairs.
Are we biological machines? Are we driven by self-interest only? Are we forever trapped in our own minds? Or, are there different ways to understand who we are?
People in Western societies are becoming increasingly lonely and isolated at the same time as technological innovation is supposedly connecting us more than ever. Both our work lives and social lives are characterised not by community and cooperation, but by individual success through competition. Whilst we can shout our opinions at strangers on the internet to accumulate more ‘likes’, public spaces for meaningful dialogue are continuously being dismantled. Today’s world may be marked by crisis, yet this does not necessarily mean a time of despair: the word ‘crisis’ originally meant ‘decision’. Through dialogue, we may better comprehend the present crises we face as well as be able to make better decisions about our future.
In this series of public lectures, the speakers will question the modern concepts of the ‘self’ and ‘society’ as well as show how these concepts underpin many contemporary social, cultural and political problems. These lectures will look to the past in order to better understand the present as well as see different ways to understand what it means to be human. Each lecture will last roughly 45 minutes and will be followed by questions and conversation.
We invite you to join us for a night of ideas, discussion and drinks as we ask what it means to be human in the modern world.
No knowledge of philosophy is required; everyone is welcome to attend.
Free to attend. All refreshments and food are available for purchase from The Moon Café.
For more info including lecture slides and suggested readings: https://perthphilosophycircle.com/Facebook